Claudia Ruff writes about her last days with Tamer Alawam in Syria:
We arrived in Aleppo on August 28th, finding the city in a state of war, with bombing and shelling going on 24 hours a day. People were trying to escape, often after being forced to abandon their ruined homes.
Tamer wanted to do more than document the situation and the cruelty people are enduring. He also wanted to show how they deal with it, how they manage to survive, and how some of them choose to join the fight against the regime.
The last project we were working on in Aleppo was a report about the different groups involved in the fight against the state’s army, showing that these people aren’t extremists who only want to blow themselves apart as suicide bombers, as the Assad regime continues to insist. Tamer wanted to show in pictures and interviews that, alongside many former soldiers from the state army who have defected in recent months, many former civilians have started to fight against the regime as the only possibility of defending their country, their families and their friends. There was nobody who didn’t lose members of their family or their friends in the last few months, and every day horrible news about the death of loved ones arrives.
Tamer’s heart and mind were always in Syria, even when he was in Berlin. He suffered with every new report he received from his country; and suffered even more being in Berlin, as he always felt that he needed to do more and more and more to end this cruelty. So, going to Syria was something of a relief for a few days, even when he put his life in serious danger by doing so – and lost his life in the end.
On September 8, the regime’s army was trying to reconquer a block very near the place where we had just managed to set up a new media center. With the FSA we directly went there to cover the counter attack. The area was heavily shelled; we were a street away from front-line. When I heard the explosion I did what I always did: I found a shelter. When I saw Tamer being pulled out from under some blasted debris, I froze. He died the next morning in a hospital.
With Tamer we lost not only a great filmmaker and writer, but also a great personality with a fierce will to fight dictatorship, a person who didn’t care that much about his personal interests and needs, but instead concentrated completely on the cause of a free Syria. I personally also lost a great and beloved friend, someone who I will never forget.